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Texas Court to Rule on Teen's Refusal to Wear 'Mark of the Beast' School ID

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By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
December 18, 2012|10:45 am

Andrea Hernandez, an evangelical Christian student at John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas, who refuses to wear the school's mandated location-tracking identification badge, explained in federal court on Monday that she is against wearing the ID because she believes it is the "mark of the beast," as found in the Bible's Book of Revelation.

"I feel it's an invasion of my religious beliefs," Hernandez, 15, has said. "I feel it's the implementation of the mark of the beast. It's also an invasion of my privacy and my other rights."

"The mark of the beast is what the Antichrist is going to use so he can track the people," Steven Hernandez, the girl's father, said of the identification badge, according to NPR.

Hernandez testified along with his daughter Monday that she should not be transferred from John Jay High School to nearby public Taft High School in her sophomore year because it would interfere with her educational goals.

The issue began in summer 2012 when John Jay High School, located in the Northside Independent School District of San Antonio, implemented the SmartID tracking system, the intent of which is to be able to provide a more accurate count of how many students are attending school and to locate specific students should there be an emergency.

Hernandez was the only student out of 4,200 to contest the new identififaction system, which uses a GPS-like tracking system to locate students.

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The school offered for Hernandez to wear the new identification card without the installation of the locator chip, but Hernandez refused, arguing that she wanted to wear her old I.D. badge.

The Hernandez family, which all attend John Hagee's Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, then filed a lawsuit against the school district for implementing the I.D. badges, arguing that it was unconstitutional to force the I.D. cards on students.

In the lawsuit, Hernandez sought an injunction to keep her from being transfeered from John Jay High School for disobeying the school's policies, as well as for monetary damages, according to KSAT.com.

The Hernandez family stated in the lawsuit that they refused to allow Andrea to wear the new I.D. badge, even without the tracker, because it would imply that she was still participating in the new system and doing so was tantamount to "submission of a false god."

John Whitehead, the family's lawyer who works for the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties nonprofit organization in Virginia, told NPR that the religious convictions of the Hernandez family are so strong, he believes "the easiest thing for the school here is to opt out."

Although the Hernandez family argues that the locator chips are unconstitutional, the school district argues that the decision to use the SmartID system was based on safety and efficiency.

"Nobody is sitting at a bank of monitors looking for the whereabouts of 3,000 students," Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told The Associated Press in November.

"We don't have the personnel for it, nor do we have the need to do that. But when I need to find [a student], I can enter his random number and I can find him somewhere as a red dot on that computer screen. `Oh, there he is, in Science Room 22' or whatever. So we can locate students, but it's not about tracking them," Gonzalez added.

The issue, for the school district, is also financial. The district receives money from the federal government based on how many children are in attendance at the school on a daily basis.

In 2011, the state of Texas slashed funding for public schools by $5 billion, and school district officials maintain that the purpose of this new tracking device is to regain some of its federal funding.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia announced on Monday that she will decide by the end of the week whether to grant Hernandez a temporary injunction so she may stay at John Jay High School to complete her studies.

 

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